A Trio of PTG BMW M3s Come to Road Atlanta For Inaugural Petit Le Mans Endurance Test BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 2, 1998: They may be thousands of miles from the famed Mulsanne Straight and the cafe-lined streets of Le Mans,...
A Trio of PTG BMW M3s Come to Road Atlanta For Inaugural Petit Le Mans Endurance Test
BRASELTON, Ga., Oct. 2, 1998: They may be thousands of miles from the famed Mulsanne Straight and the cafe-lined streets of Le Mans, France. But the spirit of the world's most prestigious endurance race - the 24 Hours of Le Mans - will be all around them when a trio of Prototype Technology Group (PTG) BMW M3s take part in the inaugural Petit Le Mans next weekend (Oct. 8-10) at Road Atlanta.
The PTG BMW M3s and their fellow Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) series regulars will be joined on the 2.6-mile Road Atlanta layout by some of Europe's top exotic Le Mans Prototypes and GT entries for Saturday's 1,000-mile (or 10-hour, whichever comes first) endurance test. And PTG team owner Tom Milner and his troops continue their drive toward SPORTS CAR's season-long GT3-class championships.
"We've gotten off to a great start this season, and this is certainly a place we'd like to keep the momentum going," says Milner, whose team leads SPORTS CAR's GT3 driver's and team standings, and BMW the manufacturer's standings, after 1-2 finishes in five of the first six stops on the eight-race tour. "With 1,000 miles to race and all these great cars all around us, anything can happen. So we're bringing out all the artillery."
Milner's lineup for the Petit Le Mans includes no less than three cars and 11 drivers. Joining the familiar No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door and No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe will be the newly built No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door.
"We're pulling out all the stops, leaving nothing to chance, with the competition barreling down on us for these final two events of the season," says Scott Doniger, M Brand Manager, BMW of North America, Inc. "This will be an exciting race, to say the least, and we'll be ready with the eyes of the endurance racing world upon us."
Set to drive the No. 10 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door is the formidable trio of PTG regulars Bill Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Mark Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., with veteran Andy Pilgrim, of Cooper City, Fla., making his third appearance of the year for PTG.
"This is crunch time with championships coming down to the wire, and what a time to have a 1,000-mile endurance race," says Auberlen, who leads second-place Simo atop SPORTS CAR's GT3 driver's standings. "It'll be a matter of doing what we know best - to run hard from start to finish and stay out of trouble. We've proven that the BMW M3s can go the distance. We proved that at the Daytona 24-hour and the Sebring 12-hour by winning there the last two years in a row."
Ross Bentley, of Vancouver, B.C., Canada, recently crowned GT3 driver's champion in the rival United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) series, heads the lineup this weekend in the No. 6 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 coupe. Joining Bentley are first-time PTG drivers Darren Law, of Phoenix, Jeff Schafer, of Las Vegas, and David Besnard, of Australia.
Set to drive the new No. 1 Yokohama/Fina BMW M3 four-door is PTG regular Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., SCCA Trans-Am series regular Brian Simo, of Carlsbad, Calif., the twin brother of Mark Simo making his third appearance of the season with PTG, former PTG regular Javier Quiros, of Costa Rica, who won five races in 1996-97, and team newcomer Terry Borcheller, of Phoenix.
Practice begins Thursday (Oct. 8) with qualifying set for Friday (Oct. 9). The green flag for the inaugural Petit Le Mans falls at 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday (Oct. 10) with the conclusion set for 9 p.m. if 1,000 miles is not completed earlier. Speedvision will broadcast live the first 2